Sweet smell of success as Treatt wins Business of the Year crown
Treatt plc, a world-leading independent ingredients manufacturer and solutions provider to the global flavour, fragrance and consumer goods markets, won the coveted Business Weekly Awards ‘Business of the Year’ title at a gala presentation ceremony in Cambridge.
The Bury St Edmunds-based company joins greats such as Arm, Domino, CSR, AVEVA and British Sugar in the Hall of Fame. It beat a glittering array of life science and hi-tech companies to the crown.
Kevin Calder of lead sponsor Mills & Reeve told executive guests at the Queens’ College event: “Treatt combines a strong sense of local pride with a global outlook, selling its products internationally and creating a substantial business in the US and emerging new markets such as China.
“Committed to continuous improvement, Treatt has deep established roots and a clear strategic path that drives the business forward. Its people are creative, technically excellent and dedicated, enabling it to develop and supply a range of ready-made or bespoke systems to suite the most adventurous needs.
“We loved the corporate culture and the trade figures were impressive: Exports comprise 91 per cent of sales; 46 per cent to The Americas, 23 per cent to Europe, and 22 per cent to the Rest of the World.
“Treatt is also working on innovation for a major drinks manufacturer that could go a long way to helping the global fight against obesity caused by the amount of sugar in some products.”
The inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award conceived by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm, was won by life science entrepreneur Sir Greg Winter, Master of Trinity College.
Dr Tony Raven, chief executive of CE, outlined the stunning contribution Sir Greg had made to drug discovery and the impacts of his efforts on peoples lives across the planet.
A Fellow of the Royal Society, Sir Greg is a scientist, inventor and entrepreneur and best known for his research and inventions relating to therapeutic antibodies made at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge – known as the Nobel Prize Factory!
He has founded three biotech companies based on his inventions: Cambridge Antibody Technology in 1989 (bought by AstraZeneca), Domantis in 2000 (bought by GSK) and Bicycle Therapeutics in 2009.
The Life Science Innovation Award, sponsored by AstraZeneca and its biologics division MedImmune, was won by STORM Therapeutics amid intense competition.
Half the original Awards entries and 50 per cent of the shortlist was made up of life science businesses – reflecting the global strength of the Cambridge UK cluster.
Dr Jane Osbourn of MedImmune, who introduced the award, said: “STORM is a University of Cambridge spin-out, translating the groundbreaking work of Professor Tony Kouzarides and Eric Miska in RNA epigenetics into the discovery of first-in-class drugs in oncology and other diseases.
“Leading the field of harnessing the power of RNA epigenetics as a new area of important biology, its ambition is to become a world leading therapeutics company tackling disease through modulating RNA modifying enzymes.
“Data validating the approach, published in Nature (Nov 2017) highlights the importance of RNA modifying enzymes in cancer, and in particular in leukaemia.”
London Stansted Airport won the International Trade Award. Duncan McCunn of Barclays introduced the Award and said: “London Stansted is one of the fastest growing major airports in the UK having added nearly three million passengers since the start of 2016 to now serve over 25 million passengers a year across more than 190 destinations in Europe and beyond.
“To keep pace with growth, £150 million has been invested in redevelopment projects with an additional £600 million planned to improve facilities over the next five years.
“Stansted is also the third busiest cargo airport in the country helping transport a record 260,000 tonnes of goods all around the world with an annual value of over £12bn.
“The airport is home to over 200 companies employing over 12,000 staff and contributing over £1bn to the regional economy each year. Through Primera Air it is opening from April 9 new routes to four North American destinations and executives are actively pursing direct routes to the massive business markets of China and India.”
The fabulously successful Cambridge software business AVEVA, which last year celebrated its golden jubilee, won the Quoted Company of the Year Award.
Sian Steele, who heads up PwC’s expanding Cambridge office, remarked: “AVEVA’s interim results to end-September showed revenue up 11.5% to £93.9m and adjusted profit before tax up 13.2 per cent to £10.3m and net cash up 1.6% to £133m.
“Since then we have seen the completion of the merger with French company Schneider Electric which has created a £3 billion software business headquartered in Cambridge controlling over 4,400 people across 80 locations in over 40 countries.”
Heather Richards, chief executive of Transversal, won the Cambridge Judge Business School Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Professor Sucheta Nadkarni of Cambridge Judge said: “Heather has successfully led the business through a reorganisation and a shift in the overall strategic direction of the company towards the contact centre market – focusing on the positive impact that Transversal’s Prescience platform can bring to business operations.
“During this period, Transversal has seen new business revenue increases of over 60 per cent in this market. As part of this strategic change, Heather has also led the product teams to capitalise on the AI aspects of Transversal’s Prescience platform – looking to further develop not only Transversal’s multi-lingual natural language search, but also utilise machine learning to enhance the intelligence of its predictive capabilities.”
Cambridge Judge also sponsored the Cambridge Graduate Business of the Year prize which was won by quoted online games pioneer Frontier Developments.
Judge’s Hanadi Jabado, who introduced the category, commented: “This Award is for a Cambridge-based company that has shown outstanding commercial potential or success over the last 12 months, either founded by a Cambridge University alum or which has significantly contributed to the employment and retention locally of Cambridge graduate talent.
“Frontier’s founder and CEO, David Braben OBE, graduate of Jesus College, has successfully transitioned the business in the last few years from a work-for-hire developer to a more profitable and sustainable self-publishing model.
“Frontier is growing, hiring at a annual rate of around 50 people, focusing on graduates which make up the majority of its 350 headcount. Up to 20% of total staff are graduates from Cambridge higher education establishments.
“Frontier’s transition to self-publishing has enabled the company to achieve sales into nearly 200 countries through it’s digital distribution partners. In 2017 China became the second biggest country for Frontier’s latest title, Planet Coaster. Frontier secured a £17.7m strategic investment from global internet giant Tencent in 2017.”
Cambridge Science Park’s Jeanette Walker introduced TTP Ventus as winner of the hotly contested Disruptive Technology category.
She said: “TTP Ventus’ Disc Pump technology is enabling disruptive new products across medical and industrial markets. The technology has been designed to enable silent operation combined with exceptional pressure and flow.
“Disc Pump’s small size and light weight make the technology extremely portable, enabling discreet wearable products, and its ultra-low pulsatility output delivers unrivalled smoothness of flow, while millisecond response to set-point changes enables full control flexibility.”
Surgical robotics trailblazer CMR Surgical – formerly Cambridge Medical Robotics – won the Engineering Excellence Award.
David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre, introduced the Award and revealed why CMR Surgical had won: “CMR Surgical – formerly Cambridge Medical Robotics – has developed Versius, a next-generation surgical robot for keyhole surgery. It is inspired by the human arm and is said to have remarkable dexterity, flexibility and reach, enabling a new paradigm in surgical experience.
“CMR Surgical has more than doubled in size in the past year, now employing over 170 people. It is developing a 42,000 sq ft global headquarters on the outskirts of Cambridge and having raised $26m last September is on course to announce a new and significantly larger round, Business Weekly understands.”
The much vaunted PROWLER.io was named Startup of the Year, beating the hottest list of life science and technology fledglings the Awards has ever witnessed.
Andrew Baker-Campbell of sponsor TTP paid tribute to the business. He said: “PROWLER.io is developing a new kind of decision-making platform based on probabilistic modelling, reinforcement learning and game theory that will mean AI systems will be able to make decisions as well as a human can.
“Only last September the company raised $13 million growth capital. Fellow judge and serial entrepreneur and investor Hermann Hauser has told Business Weekly that PROWLER has the best AI team in the UK, including Google’s DeepMind.”
A new ScaleUp of the Year Award was won by PlayFusion, the leader in enhanced reality entertainment, whose founder and CEO Mark Gerhard was in San Francisco clinching a crucial new deal for the business.
Andrew Moore, MD of Bailey Fisher, hailed the company’s early success. He said: “PlayFusion is growing fast in the UK and US. The company has developed breakthrough artificial intelligence and robotics technologies to enable immersive mixed-reality experiences.
“Together, these proprietary technologies comprise the world’s first mixed-reality platform spanning leading edge Computer Vision, Audio Recognition, IoT Hardware, Machine Learning and Deep Data.
“Lightseekers, PlayFusion’s first project, blends together augmented reality, physical trading cards, smart action figures and a mobile game creating a transmedia experience unique to the video game, toy and trading card markets.”
Another inaugural award was the Academic Entrepreneur of the Year prize, sponsored by Cambridge Enterprise. The inaugural winner was the prolific ‘Dontrepreneur’ Professor Jim Huntington.
Anne Dobree, head of seed funds at CE, said: “Jim Huntington’s research focuses on blood clotting and applying discoveries into medicines for thrombosis and haemophilia.
“Last year he was instrumental in reuniting the XO1 founding management team to launch SuperX with $11 million Series A Funding with Medicxi and Johnson & Johnson Innovation to develop antibodies with anticoagulant properties. That was just seven days after he helped launch Apcintex to target cures for haemophilia, raising around $18m in the process.
“The SuperX approach is based on observations from unusual case studies in patients. These experiments of nature have shone a light on the intricacies of blood coagulation pathways that have evaded conventional reductionist science for decades.”
A spectacular success was encapsulated in the Kate Gross Prize for Social Enterprise, which is open to global successes. Although Form the Future was feted for its outstanding efforts to marry more students with the right careers, the outstanding winner was Camfed.
Robert Marshall, CEO of Cambridge’s largest industrial employer – Marshall of Cambridge – was able to exclusively reveal the final, ratified total raised by the charity in a UK Aid Match drive at the end of last year and start of this.
The Government confirmed that Camfed’s campaign – backed by Business Weekly and Cambridge Judge Business School – had in fact realised almost £2.781 million.
Robert Marshall said: “Celebrating its 25th anniversary year Camfed raises young girls in Africa out of early marriage and poverty, supports them through schools and onto lives of entrepreneurship and leadership in their communities.
“It was originally thought it had raised just over £2m but the final count pushed the effort closer to £3m – a worthy winner and a fundraising effort that will help to revolutionise the lives of even more young women.”
As part of the Awards ceremony, RealVNC chief executive Dr Andy Harter, just named the new High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, conducted a fundraising effort which raised a significant amount from guests for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices through a prize draw.
He paid tribute to Scandinavian airline, Primera Air, which on April 9 launches four new direct routes to North America from London Stansted – to Boston, New York, Washington and Toronto – and which donated a super prize to the winner of the draw.
The prize is a pair of return flights to any of the airline’s North America destinations; the seats are in comfort class and the tickets cover one 10kg piece of hand luggage, one checked 20kg piece of baggage, a meal and priority seating.
Awards guest speaker Professor John Miles – the Arup/Royal Academy of Engineering Professor of Transitional Energy Strategies at the University’s Department of Engineering – gave a timely, instructive and entertaining address on Cambridge’s transport problems and efforts to resolve them.
• PHOTOGRAPH (top of page): Anita Steer and Paul Stott of Treatt plc receive the Business of the Year award from guest speaker John Miles (left) and Kevin Calder (right) of sponsor Mills & Reeve. Pictures by Tony Lumb – www.tonylumbphotography.com